Archives for posts with tag: networking

Networking, what a horrible word it is.  Perhaps a more apt way of describing it is socialising professionally so that you raise your own personal profile and gain valuable professional contacts. It’s not an easy thing to do and after several recent meetings discussing this recently I thought I’d do a bit of a blog on it. 

It’s fair to say that my job is all about networking, I meet people for a living and talk about lots of intangible things such as the ‘markets’ and trends we’re seeing within it.  I hope I’m reasonably good at my job though I fully expect that if ever anyone reads this I could have several naysayers!  With this in mind I thought I might give a few tips as to how to do this without seeming over eager or desperate.  The worst thing is to be the type of chap who is at every industry event and hands out business cards like confetti.  

Ideally you want to be in contact with people who are relevant to you, in other words the people of the right level who ultimately make decisions which could affect you in some way.  Be it your next job, your next non-executive position, your next client or your next sales target.  The problem with this is of course that these people are in demand, so how do you get to them without sounding like everyone else who’s trying to get to them?  In short, how do you stand out?

Without a doubt the best way to meet people and to network is by referrals.  If someone gives you a personal recommendation that is gold dust, people are far more willing to chat with someone if they’ve been referred to them by a friend or trusted colleague.  So the question becomes how do you get referrals?  Well that’s a little tougher but I believe there are two main areas to concentrate on, one is being damn good at what you do, whatever that is and do it for a long time, it builds word of mouth.  The second is to be an open networker yourself, by this I mean be generous with your own contacts.  Introduce people you know in similar fields, if for instance you know a pensions consultant very well and an in house head of pensions, why don’t you introduce them? It doesn’t cost you anything except a couple of minutes but it builds your credibility, of course assuming both your connections are good!  Ultimately both these people will be that little more willing to do you a favour and introduce you to someone they know when the time comes.  I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around and if you share your time with others, help them with no thought of reward for doing so, ultimately others will come back and do the same for you.  

The more we all learn this skill and do it better, the more generous we are with our connections, then the more business will be transacted, new roles found and friendships formed.  It’s a valuable skill and one that benefits us all ultimately.  

Advertisement

Linkedin, the one networking site I constantly use but I was thinking about this yesterday with some colleagues, what is linkedin good for?  Well first of all the positives, Linkedin has more professionals than anywhere else including their job titles, skills and previous roles and companies.  As you can imagine for a headhunter or a business developer this is brilliant.  Frankly for anyone who wants to expand their network, hire someone or simply converse with like-minded professionals about the important issues within your own industry I can think of nowhere better.  It’s revolutionised certain areas of business and is a boon to people who’s job it is to network around the world…

As I’m sure most people can sense though, there’s a but coming.  The problem I’m having and I assume others will start to have is the restrictive nature of their networking settings.  As linkedin is primarily a networking site I don’t understand why there is a setting that blocks you sending invites when too many people indicate they don’t know you.  Surely the whole point of a networking site is meeting people you don’t know?  If you only speak to those you already know, it’s not really networking.  I find this especially frustrating if you’re paying for the privilege of using their service.  It’s now at the point where a colleague of mine was told he could be banned for 30 days if it happens to him again, even though he too is a premium account holder.  If this isn’t an example of a company cutting off its nose to spite it’s face I’m not sure what is.  I realise they want people to more inmails but the way to go about it isn’t by limiting what should be standard services to everyone else, if they continue to go down this route they’ll simply open the door to competitors and lose the thing that was unique to themselves, open networking.  

As a disclaimer I ought to add, I have no problem with people rejecting invitations, if you don’t wish to speak to someone that is obviously fine.  It’s simply linkedins attitude to this which is concerning for me.

Double breasted suits, a good or bad thing?  I’ve managed to have all my normal suits in for dry cleaning for various reasons at the same time which has left me with one suit ’til tomorrow.  Problem is, it’s double breasted and I’m not convinced by it.  I bought it about 6 years ago on a whim, I was having a suit made to measure and there was an offer on to get a second half price so I thought I’d get something a little different for the second one.  I liked the look of it but in 6 years I’ve worn it once, now it’s been resurrected I’m not sure whether to wear it more.  Is double breasted very old fashioned? Or is it more that it’s more expensive and therefore fewer people wear them?  I’m also told it’s slightly harder to make them for off the peg suits which makes them less common.  Thoughts welcome!

Linkedin groups – I’ve just started a new one for senior level investment professionals, as I’m doing so much in the sector it seemed a good idea to start a networking group.  Short to medium term I hope to set up lunches/breakfast/dinner meetings once a month or twice a quarter or so where people in the industry can network and enjoy a drink or two.  Hopefully if we can structure it properly it will give people from different areas chance to meet, CIO’s with partners from consulting firms or Pensions directors, chairmen of trustees etc.  Hopefully this will add value from all perspectives and of course I’d be lying if I didn’t say promote my own name in the industry.

Hurray for PA’s!  So many of the PA’s of my clients make my life so much better and easier because of their efficiency and helpfulness.  They’re a pleasure to speak to and are often far more switched on than other people I speak to.  Without them my life would probably be 100 times more difficult, in the unlikely event any of them read this you have my eternal gratitude! (Also I do include my own in that, she’s a total superstar)

The Threadneedles hotel, wonderful place, not incredibly busy constantly, excellent for meetings, a quick drink or even a Scone with Jam and cream.  A slightly hidden gem in the middle of the city, though I don’t want to promote it too heavily as it’s my home away from home and I want to continue to always be able to get a seat!